Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Okunoshima ("Rabbit Island") post - Part 1 - getting there

One of the highlights (OK, probably the highlight) of the recent Japan holiday was an overnight stay at Okunoshima, the island somewhat famous for being full of friendly, wild, rabbits.  (I say "somewhat", because it  still not unusual to find Japanese people, even on Honshu, who have not heard of it.  Which is a bit surprising, given the number of Japanese TV shows showing hosts visiting parts of the country, although that is usually to eat the local delicacy and say "oishii!")

Some websites say it can be done as a day trip from Kyoto or Hiroshima, but really, I think the average human will find the place so charming that only a few hours on the island will be a matter of regret.  A day trip from Kyoto in particular would likely take about 7 or so hours of travel, so it would be a long day out!)

We made the trip from Kyoto.  Here's a map (from the rather useful JR Rail pass map) with my arrows showing the big picture from Kyoto to Mihara:

This looks like a very simple trip on the one Shinkansen line, but actually, we had to change at Fukuyama as the train we took out of Kyoto (heading to Hiroshima) did not stop at Mihara.  (On the way back  from Mihara, as we had to get all the way back to Tokyo, we had to change Okayama.)   A map to show Fukuyama:

Also, bear in mind that the JR Rail Pass, which many visitors use, is not valid for Nozomi class trains on that particular Sanyo Shinkansen line.  This, together with the matter of which trains stop where, makes the trip a bit more complicated than it appears from the map alone.  But from Kyoto to Mihara, even with the change, was supposed to take about 3 hours 20 min, although actually, due to power outages on the system, it took a bit longer.)

Anyhow, once you get to Mihara, here's the more detailed map showing the local Kure line to get to the ferry terminal town of Tadanoumi:

(The Kure line train was not running on our visit, again due to the power system problems - caused by recent bad weather - and there was a bus put on from the train station instead.)

Because I want to make the life of the traveller to Okunoshima as simple as possible, here's a marked up map showing you how to walk from the train station at Tadanoumi to the ferry terminal.   (I was expecting this to more explicitly signed for the foreign visitor, but it didn't seem to be.  Maybe there is a map inside the station somewhere, but I missed it because we got delivered there by bus?):

I do recommend going first to the next door Family Mart and buying the rabbit food packs they sell - you can get cabbage leaves, pellet food and carrot sticks - and you should buy plenty. (The carrot sticks get eaten really quickly though - cabbage is more easily stretched out.)  The ferry terminal sells tickets to the island, and also pellet food for the rabbits.

A recent copy of the ferry timetable is at this site (but whether it is still current, don't ask me), but as you can it does run pretty frequently during the day.   The trip over only takes15 minutes at most, and then you in the land of rabbits.  Oh, and the ruins of a poison gas manufacturing plant.  More in part 2.

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